|In loving memory of John Fingal Smith. Born Prince Edward Island 1846, died Cranbrook, BC 1936. A faithful lover for 18 years and a devoted husband for 31 years.|
One time, Thomas Jackson Brown arrived home after a lengthy absence, and discovered that the latest batch of dandelion wine was a bit fushionless. He added a bottle of whuskee.His brother Robert, on a separate visit, had come to the same conclusion. With neither brother consulting the other, each had added a bottle of whiskey.
Many months later, Mrs. Fingal Smith visited, a visit that was not out of the ordinary. After all, she lived nearby on 14th Avenue, near Baker Street, and even though she was a generation older than my grandmother, they shared a love of music. They often took turns playing on my Grandmother's piano, brought over from her family home in Co. Down.
On one of these visits, Mrs. Fingall Smith declared that she was feeling a touch liverish. My grandmother, without thinking, proffered her usual solution: Would you be after having a bit of tonic, then?
After a small tot of the much-fortified dandelion wine, Mrs. Fingal Smith put one hand on her chest, and announced, I can feel it doing me good. The various versions of the family story are not in total agreement about the final tally of glasses, but they do agree that after a while Mrs. Fingal Smith said she was starting to feel quite queer. Something odd seemed to have happened to her legs, and her head, and everything was suddenly spinning.One of the nearby children was immediately dispatched to fetch Mr. Fingal-Smith, who arrived post-haste with his horse and carriage to cart his dear wife home.
That was the sum total of what I knew about Mrs. Fingal-Smith until the spring of 2003, when I was at the provincial archives in Victoria. A record of the enigmatic inscription on her husband's grave made me curious enough to visit the graveyard in Cranbrook. Could this inscription be for real? A faithful lover for 18 years and a devoted husband for 31 years? Initially, I had read this with my late 20th century sensibilities, guessing that the couple had ceased being lovers after eighteen years of marriage, but I could not have been more wrong.
Her opinions were as firm after her marriage as they were before. If her husband had to play the bagpipes, which apparently he did, then he had to play them outside the house. History is silent about the opinions of the neighbours. It would seem that Adelaide sided with Oscar Wilde on the matter of bagpipes: Thank god there is no odour. After waiting for eighteen years to be able to marry, having to have his bagpipe playing relegated to the outdoors was probably a small price for John Fingal Smith to pay.